Absolutely Fabulous makes its big-screen debut almost a few years too late, but it's still entertaining enough to make it enjoyable and funny enough to hold your attention. Saunders and Lumley still have that wit and willingness to gurn and whine and there's enough goodwill for them both to have half of England's celebrities turn up on screen.
bFab was one of those TV series that's endured for many years and, in many ways, been ahead of the curve for smart comedy. It's fascinating to watch earlier episodes and clock how Broad City and Girls have essentially ripped its format, characters and general tone and made them their own. Together, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley have created one of the most well-known and well-loved comedic characters in comedy and it's high time that they got their own film. The problem, however, that faces all films based on television shows is that you're invariably comparing it to what came before and wondering if it can sustain itself out over 90 minutes as opposed to 20 minutes.
he film opens with Eddy and Patsy working their way through the London social scene as per usual. Eddy's daughter, Saffron, is now divorced with a young child (newcomer Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness) and still living with Eddy whilst Patsy is still floating around in a vapour of smoke and perfume. When it's revealed that Kate Moss is firing her PR, Eddy resolves herself to scoring her as a client. At one of Patsy's parties, an accident leaves the world thinking that Kate Moss has been murdered and Eddy is to blame. Seeking to leave her troubles behind, she and Patsy flee to Cannes. Whilst there, Patsy tries to meet up with an old flame - played by none other than Barry Humphries - in an attempt to marry him and take his money. Meanwhile, former clients of Eddy - Emma Bunton and Lulu, essentially - are hunting for her across the French Rivera.
wenty years in, Lumley and Saunders play their characters with such a deftness and assured nature that it's a pleasure to see them work. They riff off one another with relative ease, allowing a natural type of comedy to form in an arena that is anything but. There's very little changed between them, despite the fact that their characters are based on constantly staying relevant and reinventing themselves as much as possible. Likewise, it's steady as she goes for the original supporting cast, with Jane Horrocks stealing a scene or two as the air-headed Bubble. Newcomer Jamie Webb, however, has little to do and isn't fully utilised whilst Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness is, likewise, a little pointless in the grand scheme of things.
here AbFab wins out is when it puts Eddy and Patsy next to well-known faces and lets them rip. There's an endless array of cameos throughout the film, including Gwendoline Christie, our own Graham Norton, the aforementioned Kate Moss, Jon Hamm and even Jean-Paul Gaultier turns up for an oddball scene involving a metal detector. When the film is as its most cartoonish and outlandish is when its at its best. The lulls between the comedic setups are, thankfully, few and far between and the film is mercifully short so there isn't enough time to start getting bored by it all.
t's hard to know if this is the end for AbFab as Saunders appears to have a love / hate relationship with the characters. As it stands, this is a fine send-off for the series and the characters.